Refugees Return In Numbers

by Ashanthi Warunasuriya

Refugees returning to Sri Lanka

Due to the war that prevailed in this country for nearly three decades, many left the country and migrated or fled to other locations or countries. However, with the end of the war and now eight years on, those who either fled or left the country have begun returning home. The majority of those who fled the war torn areas, fled to India. However. Last month alone over 100 of them had returned to Sri Lanka. According to statistics on the 27th of last month 46 such persons had returned to Sri Lanka from India. They had been living all these years in Trichy, India. Similarly, on April 28 a further 28 of them had returned home from India. After their return another 16 refugees who were living in Chennai had returned home as well. They too returned on April 28 morning.

When asked as to why they had fled the country, they said at the time of the war, their lives and the lives of their children were in danger and they had fled the country in order to safeguard their children and themselves. The refugees who returned home have observed that peace has finally been established and they are confident that there will  not  be another war, which has made them comfortable and confident enough to make the decision to return home. They had also said that they had faith in the Sri Lankan government and hoped they would be able to rebuild their lives and live in peace in their motherland. They were hopeful of assistance from the Sri Lankan government in order to once again settle in their original lands and rebuild their lives that were shattered due to the war. They said although they were safe in India it is not their home and when they realised that peace had finally been established in their own country, they had decided to return home and resume their lives and live freely.

The Sri Lankan refugees who returned were warmly greeted at the Bandaranaike International Airport by government officials, who assured these refugees that the government will do everything in their power to ensure they receive all assistance in order to rebuild their lives and live freely. These refugees who fled Sri Lanka 30 years ago said they had to flee due to the danger they were facing. They added that currently there are over 100 Sri Lankan refugees still living in refugee camps in India.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Prison Reforms and Resettlement and Rehabilitation has taken on the responsibility of providing these refugees with assistance they require to resettle in this country, based on their individual requirements. The assistance will be determined according to their needs. Media Spokesman for the Minister of Resettlement, Rehabilitation  and Prison Reforms, Dumidu Bandara said the Minister D.M. Swaminathan had issued instructions to provide these returning refugees with their requirements. Accordingly, the Ministry had provided all returning refugees with free SIM cards for their use. Bandara said the main aim in providing them with the SIM cards was so that the Ministry could keep in contact with them and assist them further if the need arises. He said the Minister had issued instructions to keep close contacts with these returning refugees in order to make them feel comfortable and assured that the Sri Lankan government was ready and willing to assist them.

According to Minister Swaminathan, measures have been implemented to resettle the refugees who return from India. He said that the government was pleased that the people had faith in the government’s reconciliation process and added that the government was genuinely committed to ensuring the safety of the returning refugees and the people of the North who had been displaced and affected badly during the war. Swaminathan said measures are underway to facilitate the return of the rest of the refugees still living in refugee camps in India. He said in order to make the necessary arrangements to bring them back to Sri Lanka, he is preparing to leave for India shortly to hold discussions for the return of these refugees living in India. He said that he intends to visit India within the next three months and speak with the refugees there. He said he would inquire from them what their requirements were and how best the Sri Lankan government could assist them to bring them back to Sri Lanka. He said he would assure them that there were no issues now in Sri Lanka and they would be able to live freely in their own lands. He said these refugees had been displaced for years and it was time that they be given the opportunity to rebuild their shattered lives and live freely in their own country. Swaminathan said he was committed to bringing these Sri Lankan refugees back to Sri Lanka as soon as possible and facilitating their resettlement.

4 Comments for “Refugees Return In Numbers”

  1. Malin

    It’s good to see a Tamil Minister is handling the Refugees in India so that naturally they will have more trust on him. Whatever the reason, the refugees who left to India during the war crisis, They should be given priority in their settlement and also expedite bringing the rest of them still awaiting to return home.

  2. Sylvia Haik

    Our politicians do not realise what an extraordinarily valuable asset some of these former Sri Lankans domiciled abroad, especially in developed countries, are. They have superior education and experiences, some draw lucrative pensions, some have accumulated capital and assumed business acumen vital to our economy.

  3. gamarala

    Swaminathan should first ensure the return of homes and lands from the military so that the Internally Displaced Persons can live in peace.

  4. Burt

    So what is all the fuss in HK from an ex military guy that he cannot return because the govt is murdering and torturing people?

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